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Vintage Beads

In a time when the economy isn't flourishing, we all look for ways to save money. We try to do this one of several ways when it comes to crafts.

One way is to cut out crafts altogether (gasp!). Not crafting seems to work for, oh ... a minute, maybe a day if you are really strong.

Another strategy is to cut back on crafting. Maybe you cut back on the number of different crafts you do and concentrate on one type. Maybe you just limit yourself to a certain number of projects per week, month or hour. Perhaps you devote yourself to finishing up those half-done projects in the craft closet before allowing yourself to go purchase new supplies.

Another way to save is to simply shop differently. Instead of going to a bead store, shop garage sales, flea markets, Etsy.com or Craigslist.org for beads or craft components that others have purchased but no longer want or need. When shopping these avenues, you might see listings for vintage beads. Just imagine yourself in this scenario: While browsing the tables at a garage sale, you spot a unique necklace. When you ask the owner about it, she says, "Oh, that old necklace? That belonged to Grandma!" You might want to take a closer look at a find like that, and try not to give away your excitement lest the owner change her mind! If it's your lucky day, you may discover that old unwanted necklace is made of vintage beads.

Vintage beads are generally at least 20 years old or are no longer produced. Several vintage bead types seem to be particularly popular.

Vintage Lucite Beads

These beads were extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and continue to be highly sought after among vintage-jewelry enthusiasts. Lucite was very popular for many applications, such as aquarium walls, motorcycle helmet visors and aircraft windows, but few companies specialized in it for jewelry. The ones who did created high-quality pieces that have stood the test of time.

Vintage Crystals

Popular vintage crystals originate from Japan, Austria and the Czech Republic, the most famous of all, of course, being Swarovski. Some of the most popular shapes include margaritas (see photo), flower shapes and ribbed wheel beads. Swarovski has been manufacturing crystals since 1895.

Vintage Glass

Lampwork vintage glass beads come from all over the world. While a lot of them are from Germany, great beads also come from India, Italy and the Czech Republic. You will find a lot of diversity in colors and finishes, not to mention shapes and sizes.

Got the garage-sale bug now? Be sure to google "vintage bead images" to familiarize yourself with what to look for before venturing out for treasures.

Click here for larger image.
Vintage Lucite Open Pointed Petals Flower
Click here for larger image.
Vintage Light Sapphire gold-lined Swarovski Margaritas
Click here for larger image.
Vintage West German Minty Green Milk Glass Beads

Photos are used with permission from A Grain of Sand.